Our cards this week are Rebecca Harvey and Stephen Hendricks, the Queen of Clubs, and
the Eight of Hearts from Indiana.
In this episode, I’m going to tell you everything our reporting team could find out about Rebecca’s
horrific death in 1988, and how it’s connected to Stephen, who is still missing today.
For years, there hasn’t been much out there on Rebecca’s murder or Stephen’s disappearance.
That’s because their case is a lesser-known unsolved mystery from right here in my home
state of Indiana.
But our team went right to the lead investigator on the case to learn more.
More than 30 years later, the case continues to baffle law enforcement and everyone who’s
asking the question, what really happened to Rebecca Harvey and Stephen Hendricks?
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
September 3rd, 1988 had been a busy day for Jackie and Carol Arnold.
The couple had taken a road trip to and from the Indianapolis airport that afternoon to
pick up a family member.
That trip is about a two-hour drive southwest to their home in Washington, Indiana, which
is this small town in Davies County.
When they got to their house that evening on Oak Grove Road, nothing out of the ordinary
was going on.
The Arnolds lived on the outskirts of their small town and a typical night there was quiet.
They went to bed and like every other night before, didn’t hear a thing stir.
That is until around three in the morning.
That’s when Mr. Arnold woke up to something extremely unusual for the neighborhood, a
strong smell of smoke.
The smoke wasn’t in their house, it was coming from outside.
So he peeked out a window and that’s when he saw it.
The neighbor’s house was on fire.
Almost the entire structure was engulfed in flames, to the point that there were flames
shooting out from every direction, the roof, the windows, everywhere.
Without even thinking, Mr. Arnold grabbed the phone and dialed the local fire department.
In a matter of minutes, several volunteer firefighters responded to the scene.
Some of them even drove up in their personal cars.
They started fighting the blaze on the outside and called for more backup.
As the firefighters quickly worked to knock down the flames, the Arnolds were left to
helplessly look on from next door, terrified.
With each piece of the house that collapsed, they worried that the young couple who lived
inside hadn’t made it out.
Jackie and Carol knew that the vehicle parked out front belonged to a young man who lived
there with his girlfriend.
They hoped the couple maybe stayed out late or were just out of town, but their hopes
were dashed when not long after the firefighters tamed the blaze, a coroner’s van pulled
up to the burned house.
According to Indiana police records, when the firefighters made their way through the
small house, they hollered for anyone alive inside to come out, but no one responded.
When they’d reached a bedroom, they found the burned remains of a single human body
on what was left of a bed.
Now it was clear just from looking at it that the remains were those of a person, but because
they had been burned so badly, no one could tell right away whether the body was that
of a woman or a man.
Witnesses stated it appeared from burn patterns in the room that the person had been lying
on top of the bed and likely never moved, even as the house caught on fire, almost as
if they’d been asleep the whole time and didn’t even know that the house had started
Before removing anything, the Davies County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police
arrived and quickly secured the scene and started investigating.
The first thing they needed to do was ID the body, but that would take a few days for the
coroner to confirm, so in the meantime, detectives started talking with the neighbors.
They wanted to get a better idea of who lived in the house, and that’s where the Arnolds
The couple told detectives that a 22-year-old man named Stephen Hendricks had been renting
the house, and just a week before the fire, his girlfriend, a woman named Rebecca Harvey,
had moved in.
They confirmed for investigators that it was Stephen’s car that was parked out front
of the scorched house, and the Arnolds said they’d seen Stephen and Rebecca coming and
going regularly, but never spent much time with them.
They described Rebecca as being several years younger than Stephen, and said overall the
couple was nice, at least from the limited interactions they’d had.
Unfortunately, the night of the fire, the Arnolds told police they didn’t see much
action happening at Stephen’s house in between the time when they’d gotten home from the
airport and before they went to bed.
But what little info the Arnolds did give investigators set detectives off on a good
They eventually learned that Stephen worked as a local mechanic in town, and 18-year-old
Rebecca had recently dropped out of high school to live with him.
With this information in hand, authorities had to wait for the coroner’s office to
identify who the body in the house belonged to.
Was it Stephen?
Or someone else?
Eventually, law enforcement got medical records and dental impressions for Stephen and Rebecca,
and those were compared to the burned remains.
The results confirmed that the body belonged to Rebecca.
The reason police were so focused on finding out who the victim was, was because initial
autopsy and evidence findings indicated that she had been intentionally set on fire.
Traces of gasoline were found inside the house, particularly in the bedroom.
That detail told investigators all they needed to know.
They weren’t just dealing with an accidental fire, they were dealing with murder.
Now, the two glaring questions they needed to answer were, who did it?
And most importantly, where was Stephen Hendricks?
As authorities picked and shuffled through the charred remains of Stephen’s rental
house on Oak Grove Road, they started finding more clues, and one thing became very clear.
The fire that eventually engulfed the whole structure had started in the bedroom where
Rebecca’s body had been found.
Fire marshals found high concentrations of gasoline residue splashed all around the room.
According to police records, the county coroner who conducted Rebecca’s autopsy wasn’t
able to determine if she died before the fire started.
And it’s not super clear because investigators won’t release the full autopsy report, but
I guess there wasn’t enough of Rebecca’s lungs left for the coroner to determine if
she inhaled any smoke before dying, or if she was already dead before the fire started.
Our reporter Emily interviewed Indiana State Police Sergeant Brock Wernie, who said that
he and the other investigators who have worked on this case over the years have always contemplated
the terrible thought that maybe Rebecca burned alive because she was restrained or incapacitated
somehow on the bed.
But Sergeant Wernie is actually one of a handful of investigators who doesn’t believe that
Wernie claims Rebecca was killed prior to the fire starting.
He says the position of her remains indicated she was lying on the bed motionless when she
was set on fire.
It doesn’t say she was alive.
She could have been.
This is just an assumption.
I would say she was dead.
And that’s just based off if the house is on fire and she’s alive and she can get out,
she probably would have got out.
I’m saying I don’t think a suspect would hold somebody down until they burnt, you know what
They would also be burnt.
So my assumption is that she was dead before the fire started.
Our team did find some rumors out there online that suggest Rebecca might have been tied
to the bed while she was being burned.
But Sergeant Wernie said this isn’t true.
He couldn’t really share more from his case file about that.
But all he said was it’s just not true.
So the rumors about her being tied to the bed are false?
I didn’t see anything about her and her court being tied to the bed.
Unfortunately, whether or not Rebecca was alive or dead before being set on fire is
just not something anyone but her killer can know.
All police were sure of at the time was that Rebecca’s death was no accident.
Naturally, their next move was to figure out where Steven was.
Firefighters found no trace of him in the house, but his car was left parked out front,
his personal belongings like his wallet and keys were ultimately found in the house.
That told investigators he either walked away from the crime scene, or he got a ride, or
he was never there at all.
But just the fact that Steven was Rebecca’s boyfriend and the only other person known
to live in the house made him authorities’ prime suspect.
Police wondered if there was anything in the couple’s history or relationship that could
have led him to kill her and flee.
Sometimes people say they were a happy couple, I guess, and then there’s some that say that
they were on and off.
One time they’d be happy and one time they would be yelling at each other.
The problem was, everyone detectives spoke with, friends, family, the Arnolds, they all
said that Steven and Rebecca really seemed to love one another.
In fact, they weren’t even just girlfriend and boyfriend, they were engaged.
It was kind of low-key, but together they had been working hard to save up for their
Steven worked on cars at a place in Washington called Craney’s Body Shop, which is still
in business today.
And Rebecca worked as a waitress at a local restaurant called Patsy’s Pizza.
Some of her friends told police back in 1988 that she’d even contemplated going back to
high school to finish her senior year and get her diploma.
And the Arnolds told police that on several occasions they’d gotten the impression from
Steven that he really encouraged Rebecca to go back and graduate.
Emily tried to contact several of Rebecca’s old classmates and friends about their relationship,
and even just to learn more about Rebecca in general, but no one responded.
Records indicate that her parents died years ago, and little else is known about her, other
than what I’ve told you.
In 88, police knew just as much info, and so they were left asking the question, if
Steven and Rebecca had a wedding date on the horizon and a happy future ahead of them,
then why would he kill her?
That’s a question that investigators have never been able to find the answer to, because
they have never been able to find Steven.
Today, he’s listed as a missing person.
Investigators back in 1988 interviewed his boss at the auto body shop in Washington right
after the fire, and that guy told the cops that it was truly bizarre Steven never showed
up to work again after the incident.
He was one of the best employees Craney’s Body Shop had at the time.
He was a very good worker, I know that for them.
They did report that in here, because I think Mr. Craney at one time, when he hired him
or they went and interviewed him, said he was a good worker.
Mr. Craney told police that Steven not returning to work was odd, because he’d left thousands
of dollars worth of personal mechanics tools inside the shop.
For a long time, news publications that have covered this case reported conflicting information
about whether or not Steven collected his paycheck from his work before the fire.
Some news reporters from that time said that Steven did not pick up his last paycheck.
But Sergeant Wernie took a fresh look at the investigative reports specifically for this
show and he said that Steven did in fact pick up his paycheck and cashed it at the
local IGA the afternoon before the fire.
So you could assume if Steven was planning to murder Rebecca and take off and start a
new life that he might have used that paycheck to get a head start.
But then why wouldn’t he take his valuable mechanics tools with him that he could, I
don’t know, sell or pawn off to help with his getaway?
And why would he leave his wallet behind?
It doesn’t make sense.
The last known sighting of Steven was after he cashed his paycheck, just a few hours before
the Arnolds woke up to see his house on fire.
A friend of his was at the Oak Grove Road house with Steven late in the afternoon on
Police interviewed that friend not long after the crime, and he told investigators that
Steven was helping him work on his truck, which had overheated earlier that day.
The guy told police that everything seemed normal with Steven when he was there, and
that Rebecca was gone at the time working at Potsy’s Pizza.
No one has heard from or seen Steven Hendricks since that moment.
That’s the hardest part of this case is he hasn’t been located.
So is he somebody that was involved or is it somebody else involved that took him somewhere
That’s the unknown right now.
And that’s probably the biggest question they had back then.
It’s probably still the biggest question we have today is where he’s at.
Never having a solid lead on where their prime suspect went, and no forensic evidence
to push Rebecca’s murder case forward, caused the investigation to grind to a halt.
There’s just so much unknowns, I think, in this case.
So some people out there make assumptions to the case and don’t know the facts and that’s
how the rumors start going around, you know, especially since Steven’s missing, Hendricks.
So with him missing and never being found, there’s a lot of scenarios that could have
took place, you know, that sends people into starting rumors.
A bizarre theory that was floated on social media a few years back indicated Steven was
killed the same night as Rebecca and his body was dumped in Oak Grove Cemetery, not far
from the original crime scene.
Police took this tip so seriously that they taped off the cemetery and started to dig.
Somebody I believed a body to be.
I don’t remember whose body, if it was Hendricks or somebody else’s, but we just looked into
that area and nothing was located.
The number of semi-credible tips dwindled as the case got older and colder.
Police struggled to get to the bottom of who killed Rebecca and where Steven was.
Cold case investigators turned to re-examining Steven’s life more closely, hoping it would
reveal more clues.
Learning more about Rebecca and Steven’s past was essential for us to put this episode together.
Law enforcement is limited to what detectives working on the case now can say on the record,
but that’s why we hired the team to dig deeper.
Emily interviewed Steven Hendricks’ younger sister, a woman named Felicia, to learn more
about him and his past, both before and while he was dating Rebecca.
Felicia didn’t want to be recorded, but she says for years she felt something terrible
happened to her older brother the night Rebecca was murdered.
Felicia says Steven was funny, caring, and protective of her and anyone else he loved,
He enjoyed riding motorcycles, fixing cars, and getting together with family when he could.
Growing up, Felicia and Steven were tight and on a weekly basis either went to dinner
or the movies and sometimes went on camping trips.
Felicia says that three days before the fire, she met Rebecca over the phone.
She’d been chatting with her brother and said it was great to hear about how happy
and excited he was to get married.
Felicia says Rebecca sounded like a really sweet girl and she wishes she could have met
her future sister-in-law in person.
But for all his good qualities and bright future, Steven did have his share of trouble,
He didn’t have a significant criminal history by any means, but according to a statement
Steven’s boss gave police, Steven had actually been arrested just one town over, five months
before the fire.
Sergeant Wernie said that police arrested Steven for battery, criminal mischief, and
criminal recklessness in late spring of 1988.
The charges were fairly minor, and according to county jail records, Steven only served
45 days in jail before being released on the morning of May 26th, 1988.
Here’s the thing though, Steven’s arrest wasn’t because he got out of control with
Rebecca or any kind of domestic violence incident.
According to Sergeant Wernie, Steven was arrested for taking a baseball bat to the car of one
of Rebecca’s ex-boyfriends while the ex-boyfriend was in the car.
As far as we could find, this information has never been reported in detail before,
and what he told us about the ex really piqued my interest.
Sergeant Wernie said at one point in time, this ex-boyfriend who Steven attacked was
someone investigators did look at pretty hard.
There was other persons of interest, of course ex-boyfriends to her, I think were persons
Were they ever named as suspects?
No, I guess everybody’s a suspect, depends on how you put that, you know what I mean?
So yeah, were they suspects?
Yeah, they were suspects, but they were interviewed, and obviously nothing came out of those interviews
where they’re not in custody, you know what I mean, they were locked up for it.
But are they still suspects?
Yeah, I guess anybody’s still a suspect in this case because we don’t have the answers yet.
The rumor at the time was that Rebecca’s ex was overheard in a local store, stating
that if he saw Rebecca and Steven together, he would kill them both.
As promising as this lead seemed, after several interviews with locals who reported the rumor,
police determined someone made the whole story up.
Everybody was interviewed at the time, all family members, I mean, I saw the list of
people being interviewed, it’s huge.
They did a very good investigation who did this, I mean, they interviewed everybody,
everybody that knew anything, friends, to family, to neighbors, to co-workers, everybody
was interviewed and asked questions.
On top of that, Rebecca’s ex provided police with an alibi.
According to reports, he was said to be at a friend’s house the night of the fire, and
he had some buddies who corroborated his story.
But there never seemed to be any additional follow-up by police, that the ex-boyfriend
provided proof that he was at the friend’s house the whole night.
What’s worse, police said that that ex-boyfriend has since died, so who knows if he took any
secrets to the grave with him.
According to Sergeant Wernie, two other suspects emerged over the years that felt like they
could be solid leads.
Police say these suspects were two men from Indianapolis who were seen in the town of
Washington on September 4th and 5th of 1988.
They had been hired to do some electrical work at Patsy’s Pizza, the same restaurant
where Rebecca worked.
While on shift the night of September 4th, the bartender at the restaurant saw these
two men come in, and after a while, the guys started chatting her up.
According to her transcript in Sergeant Wernie’s case file, the bartender mentioned the men
indicated they wanted to buy some cocaine while they were in town.
The strangers also stated that they didn’t have a place to stay while they were there,
so they tried to convince the bartender to let them crash with her.
The bartender said that the guys wouldn’t let up, so finally she told them that they
could crash at her place, but she intentionally gave them a wrong address to throw them off,
which is like such a great crime junkie move on her part.
But according to her interview with police though, these two guys somehow still figured
out where she lived, and when she got home from work that night, which was technically
early in the morning September 5th, the men were at her kitchen table.
Her boyfriend’s brother had let them inside.
The bartender told police that she sent these guys packing into the darkness in the direction
of Oak Grove Road, and that would have been around the same time of morning that Rebecca
Harvey was murdered.
Now I don’t know if the police ever tracked these guys down and interviewed them or ever
got alibis for them, but from what Sergeant Wernie said, the men reportedly just drove
around the rest of the night and morning in Washington.
So maybe the cops did interview them, maybe they just relied on eyewitness sightings,
I’m not really sure.
But either way, Sergeant Wernie said they could never come up with a motive for why
these men would have been involved in killing Rebecca and abducting or killing Steven.
I mean I guess you could venture and say robbery, or possibly it was sexually motivated, but
again why take Steven?
Why burn the house and only douse Rebecca with gasoline?
But just the detail that these guys were working at Potsy’s Pizza the same day as the crime
is super interesting to me.
Unfortunately, the police could never come up with enough evidence or witness testimony
to connect these men or anyone else to the case.
And that’s what the problem has always been, and might always be with this case if we keep
looking where we’ve already looked.
The reality is the key people that have been investigated are either missing or dead.
The ex-boyfriend, deceased.
The shady guys from Indianapolis, confirmed dead.
Steven hasn’t been seen in 33 years.
So possibly he’s dead too.
Who did it, we don’t know.
Is Steve dead or did somebody else kill him and take him out first, you know what I mean,
and then go to the house?
I mean just a lot of unknowns.
Reading through this report, we still don’t know either way.
And that’s just making a guess on my part.
We don’t know whether he’s a suspect or a victim obviously because he’s missing, can’t
It makes you assume something happened to him, but at the same time, as a detective
you never want to assume anything.
Because if you assume that, next thing you know he shows up somewhere just because he
changed identities or he started a new bank account or a fake name.
So I’ve learned in this job never to assume anything.
Anything can happen.
Despite these setbacks, Indiana State Police think there are still people out there who
know exactly what happened to Rebecca Harvey and Stephen Hendricks.
And those people have to come forward to even begin to move this case forward.
You never lose hope.
You always hope you can solve it.
But the longer the years go by, the harder it is to solve a case like this.
Somebody knows something out there, I would say in this case.
Whether Stephen’s still alive and maybe somebody’s talked to him and he’s admitted to killing
somebody and lives in another state, or if an ex-boyfriend at this point has told anybody
that they admitted to anybody over the years that they did it, it’s just anybody that would
know any information just to come forward.
It’s been long enough.
That’s what we hope for.
It’s been long enough and the truth needs to come out.
The family needs closure.
If you have any information about the murder of Rebecca Harvey or the disappearance of
Stephen Hendricks, you’re asked to call the Indiana State Police Jasper Post at 812-482-1444.
The Deck is an AudioChuck production with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work, visit thedeckpodcast.com.
So, what do you think, Chuck, do you approve?